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Cyclists pay tribute to King Alfred the Great

Ride from Wantage to Winchester commemorates king who united English against the Vikings

Cyclists have been commemorating one of the towering figures of English history with a 52-mile ride from Wantage in Oxfordshire, the birthplace of King Alfred the Great, to Winchester in Hampshire.

The Wantage/Grove Herald reported that Sunday’s ride marked the 900th anniversary of the reburial at Hyde Abbey, Winchester, of the monarch who united the Anglo-Saxons against the Vikings during the 9th Century AD.

Along the way, the 129 riders passed the Blowing Stone near Uffington, where the king is reputed to have summoned his army to fight the Vikings.

There was disappointment, however, for one cyclist who had been hoping to take part in the ride, the outgoing Mayor of Wantage, Patrick O’Leary, who was suffering from a knee injury he picked up while out riding a fortnight ago.

Mr O’Leary was there to wave the riders off, however, and said “It’s all about community and what I did find amazing is King Alfred is the only one classed ‘Great’ and after all these years, we are still doing something to commemorate him.”

The event formed part of the Hyde900 celebrations, marking the history of Hyde Abbey, which now lies in ruins.

One participant in the ride, 57-year-old Len Double, cycled up to Wantage from Winchester to join the ride back to his home town, and told the newspaper: “Wantage is a fantastic place. I will definitely go again. We thought the whole route was really well thought out.”

It's not known whether the cyclists stopped off en route to enjoy some burnt cakes in tribute to one of the legends surrounding the king.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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handlebarcam | 14 years ago

You'd never tell Wantage's mayor is a cyclist from the terrible condition of its roads (verging of dangerous for cyclists) and the paucity of decent bike parking in the town centre.

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